Archive for May, 2011

No Other God Can Deliver

Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.  Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

Daniel 3: 28-30

After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fiery furnace, king Nebuchadnezzar was understandably awed by what he had seen.  The God of Israel had delivered them from the fire.  He immediately made a decree that anyone who would speak anything against this God would be “cut in pieces” and that their houses would be “made a dunghill.”  While that is not the method God would have us use in bringing people to Him, to have to at least admire Nebuchadnezzar’s newfound zeal.

He found that zeal because he had seen something beyond the realm of possibility.  He had seen God deliver and deliver completely.  He made a statement in verse 29 that sticks out to me.  He was awed because he realized that “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”  The pagan king Nebuchadnezzar was able to see that there is only one God Who could deliver those men like He delivered them.  It was one thing for them to come out of the fire alive.  It was another thing for them to come out of the fire with no evidence that they had ever been in the fire!

Today, we can speak with Nebuchadnezzar when we say “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”  There is no other God can deliver us from sin like He can.  There is no other God that can deliver us from ourselves like He can.  He saves and He saves to the uttermost!

Our Memorials

And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.  And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.  Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

I Samuel 7:10-12

Today is Memorial Day, a day in which we honor those who made a sacrifice for us and for our freedom.  It is important to remember those who gave something, whether it was their life or even just time and discomfort, so that we might be free.  Today, as every day, we would also like to remember the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  He died that we might live.

A memorial is simply something that we set up to help us remember a person or an event that we want to remember.  In these verses in I Samuel, the Lord has just given the Israelites a great victory over the Philistines.  In verse 12, Samuel sets up a stone for a memorial and calls is Ebenezer, which means “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”  We could all use some “Ebenezers” in our lives.  I don’t know most of people who read this blog personally, but whoever you are, I know that you can say “the Lord has helped me.” 

We know that the Lord has helped us, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we tend to forget.  We need some memorials in our lives to the goodness and mercy of the Lord.  So, today, let us stop and remember all that the Lord has done for us.  And let us humbly thank Him and ask that He would help us never forget that we have life (spiritual and physical) only because of Him.

Take the World, but Give Me Jesus (Hymn)

Take the World, but Give Me Jesus
Fanny Crosby (1879)

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same.

Refrain:
Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
With my Savior watching o’er me,
I can sing though billows roll.

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Let me view His constant smile;
Then throughout my pilgrim journey
Light will cheer me all the while.

Take the world, but give me Jesus;
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see.

I have sang this hymn many times over the years, and always enjoyed it.  But it wasn’t until the other day when I was thinking about the fact that it was written by Fanny Crosby that I really began to appreciate it.  The last lines say “Till, with clearer, brighter vision, Face to face my Lord I see.”  She was obviously a very popular hymn writer who happened to be blind.  What an amazing statement from a blind lady.  Imagine the first thing that Fanny Crosby’s eyes ever saw: the Lord Jesus.  Wow.

Not Even the Smell of Fire

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.  Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abd-nego, came forth of the midst of the fire.  And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Daniel 3:26-27

I can only imagine what this scene must have looked like.  You have Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego coming out of the fiery furnace with no harm done to them.  And you have not only King Nebuchadnezzar, but all of his princes, governors, captains and counsellors with him.  Probably just about everyone of importance was there: these were the leaders and the advisors of the kingdom, the “best and the brightest.”

These were the people who were looking at the three Hebrews when they walked out of the fire.  I love the way the Bible describes their appearance, leaving no doubt: “upon whose bodies the fire had no power.”  I love that line.  Fire destroys pretty much anything.  But it has no power above God’s power.  If God wants fire to have no power, it has no power.  “Nor was an hair of their head singed.”  That would be like being thrown into a lake and walking out completely dry.  Just the fact that they were alive was miracle enough, but they did not even lose the end of one of the hairs on their head.  “Neither were their coats changed.”  Not even their clothes were burnt.  I like the fact that it uses the term “changed.”  That goes even beyond “burnt.”  That means that their clothes were not even darkened by the flame.  And, my personal favorite, “nor the smell of fire had passed on them.”  They didn’t even smell like smoke.  You can stand 10 feet away from a campfire for a few minutes and smell like smoke.  It doesn’t take much.  But the smell didn’t even effect them.

I think this illustrates just how powerful God is and just how capable He is of “saving to the uttermost.”  The fire literally had no power over them.  Because they allowed God to have power over them.  Quite a lesson for us!

A Change of Attitude

…who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?  They answered and said unto the king, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.  Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither…

Daniel 3:15b, 24-26a

We looked the other day at King Nebuchadnezzar’s pride.  He demanded to be worshipped as a god.  And, when he wasn’t, he was enraged at the Hebrews men who had defied him.  And we saw how he pridefully asked “who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands.”  Well…

After throwing these men into the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar saw “that God that shall deliver you out of my hands.”  He saw that God with his own two eyes.  And what a change it brought about in his attitude.  In verse 15, he was demanding to be worshipped as a god himself and was mocking the true God of these Hebrews.  In verse 26, he speaks to Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego as being “servants of the most high God.”

Suddenly, after seeing God and seeing His deliverance, Nebuchadnezzar realized that it was not he who should be worshipped, but the God of Israel.  Seeing the Lord should (and does) bring about a change in our attitude.  When we come face to face with Him, we realize that He is the most high, not us.  A pagan king of Babylon was able to realize this; how often do we fight that fact?  How often do we fight the fact that we are not the “most high?”  That’s a tough question.

Great Faith = Great Reward

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Aded-nego.  And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?  They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Daniel 3:21-25

What an amazing story!  This story blows me away every time I read it.  These three Hebrew men had defied the king and refused to worship his idol.  They were willing to be thrown into the fiery furnace before they would bow their knee to Nebuchadnezzar.  They would die before they turned their back on God.  Imagine what these guys must have been thinking.

They were getting ready to be thrown into the fire.  It was so hot that it consumed the men who were throwing them in.  I wonder if they felt the heat as they got closer.  I can imagine them closing their eyes and maybe wincing as they were tossed into the inferno.  Then a strange thing happened.  They were not burned.  They were no longer even bound.  Their skin was not burning.  Not even their clothes were on fire.  I wonder what went through their minds as they looked at each other.  Then they saw someone else.  Even the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar recognized the fourth person as being “like the Son of God.”  As those men walked around in that fire, they literally walked with God.  I have to say that if I could be present for any of Old Testament miracles, that would be my pick.  Imagine walking in the fire, unhurt, with God Himself.

It took a great deal of faith for them to defy a king and to be thrown willingly into a fiery furnace.  But what a reward awaited them in those flames!  When God calls us to walk through the fires of life, we can rest assured that He will be there.

Who Is That God?

Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-nego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?  Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Daniel 3:15

Here we see Nebuchadnezzar make a great, though common, mistake.  He is a king.  In fact, he is the king of the greatest empire in the world at that time.  I could be said that he “ruled the world.”  This earthly power in turn caused his pride to swell.  And with swelling pride, he began to feel the need to be worshipped.  So he created an idol and demanded that all of his subjects bow down and worship it at the sound of the music.  Of course he was infuriated when these three Hebrew boys refused to bow.  Here was his great mistake:

Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?

Nebuchadnezzar mistakenly thought that he was God.  He mistakenly thought that there was no God more powerful than he.  But the question he asked remains an important question to this day: “Who is that God that shall deliver you…”  People everywhere are looking for a God who can deliver them.  We know that God!  I know the answer to that question.  I can answer Nebuchadnezzar’s question!  The God that can deliver us is the same God that delivered these three young men from the fiery furnace.  He is the same God that parted the Red Sea.  He is the same God that created the world.  He is the same God that died on the cross for us and rose again the third day.  He is the God of the Bible. 

Think of that- we can answer a question asked by the king of the most powerful empire on earth at the time!  We know that God!

No Matter What…

Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:4-6, 16-18

This is the famous story of the Hebrew children and the fiery furnace.  As a child, I think that this story and the story of Daniel and the lions’ den were my favorite Bible stories.  As I have gotten older, they remain two of my favorites.

We all know this story.  Nebuchanezzar makes a giant golden image and commands all of the people to bow down to it at the sound of the music.  And most people, fearing the wrath of the king, do it.  But not Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  They decide that they will serve the Lord and will not bow to the image.  The one thing I would like to take from this story today is their attitude:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

That is courage.  Their statement reminds me of Job’s statement: “though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”  They believed God to the extent that they were willing to stake their lives on His deliverance.  They knew that He had the power to save them from the furnace.  And if He decided not to deliver them from the furnace, they were still not going to worship the kings idol.  No matter what God decided to do, they were going to follow Him.  That should be our attitude.  I will follow Him.  No matter what.

The Simple Gospel

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18

I wanted to do something special for today, as this is my 500th post on this blog.  It’s a bit of a milestone and I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to do this for the last year and a half.  I thought about several verses that I would like to use, but in the end, I just decided to write about the simple gospel of Jesus Christ because, in the words of Paul, “… I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

I was reading a book the other day that mentioned this verse containing a concise statement of the entire gospel.  The more I looked at it and thought about it, the more I saw the truth in that statement.  This is a great verse!

We see who He is: “the just…

We see who we are: “the unjust…”

We see what He did for us: “once suffered…”

We see what caused the suffering: “for sins…”

We see why He did it: “that he might bring us to God…”

And, as the gospel is defined I Corinthians 15:3-4, we have a perfect summary of the gospel: “Christ… being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

It’s all there.  The wonderful, simple message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Let us thank Him every day for it!

Did You Think To Pray (Hymn)

Did You Think To Pray
Mary A. Pepper Kidder

Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ our Savior,
Did you sue for loving favor,
As a shield today?
Refrain

O how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day;
So when life seems dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

When you met with great temptation,
Did you think to pray?
By His dying love and merit,
Did you claim the Holy Spirit
As your guide and stay?

Refrain

When your heart was filled with anger,
Did you think to pray?
Did you plead for grace, my brother,
That you might forgive another
Who had crossed your way?

Refrain

When sore trials came upon you,
Did you think to pray?
When your soul was bowed in sorrow,
Balm of Gilead did you borrow
At the gates of day?

Refrain

This is a convicting hymn to me.  How often have I gone through some of these exact situations and forgotten to pray?  How many times have I not “thought to pray?”  This is a simple hymn with a simple message, which makes it all the more powerful!